Tag Archives: Good News

Good News #adventbookclub – Day 6

Mark 1:1-11 (CEV)

The Preaching of John the Baptist

This is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It began just as God had said in the book written by Isaiah the prophet,

“I am sending my messenger
to get the way ready
    for you.
In the desert
    someone is shouting,
‘Get the road ready
    for the Lord!
Make a straight path
    for him.’”

So John the Baptist showed up in the desert and told everyone, “Turn back to God and be baptized! Then your sins will be forgiven.”

From all Judea and Jerusalem crowds of people went to John. They told how sorry they were for their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River.

John wore clothes made of camel’s hair. He had a leather strap around his waist and ate grasshoppers and wild honey.

John also told the people, “Someone more powerful is going to come. And I am not good enough even to stoop down and untie his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

The Baptism of Jesus

About that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As soon as Jesus came out of the water, he saw the sky open and the Holy Spirit coming down to him like a dove. 11 A voice from heaven said, “You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.”

I’ve probably had too much Top Gear inflicted on me, but whenever I hear the phrase ‘Good News’, I think of this:

Good news is something to get excited about, something to rejoice in, to celebrate.

God had promised, the way would be prepared, and now it has been.  He’s here.

I don’t know about you, but in our house the excitement levels always increased when someone exciting or special was expected.  Much checking through the window, and then excited cries, “He’s here”.

Mark’s gospel always seems to be excited, keen to tell you everything in a great rush, because it’s so incredible, so exciting, such Good News.  He doesn’t go into the ancestry or even birth of Jesus, he wants to get on with the main event, what Jesus came to do.  That doesn’t mean his origins aren’t important, just not part of what Mark has to say.

Maggi points us to Mark’s two questions (p32):

Who is Jesus?

What should a disciple of Jesus be like

The answers to those questions are what concern him, and continue to be the basis for Christian life – what we need to discover and live out.  Advent is an opportunity for us to ponder those questions anew.

Who is Jesus?  What does he mean for me, where I am in my life today?  And how do I respond?  What should my life look like to live out what I believe?

A warning note from Maggi, that though we have to answer those questions for ourselves, the answers have to remain part of the bigger picture, brought to us through the prophets.

Long Ago Prophets Knew

Who are you?
What do you mean in my life?
These are the questions I have to ask myself.

Help me Lord,
to take time,
to listen,
to pray,
to live
– in you
and through you

(By the way, all this talk of the beginnings of the gospels reminds me of a brilliant book – Beginnings by Morna Hooker from SCM Press.  It puts each Gospel into context of where the author was going, how the beginning sites it.  Probably the best book I read during my theological training!)

This year, several of us are reading Beginnings and Endings by Maggi Dawn and joining together to comment on it.  Do join us at the Adventbookclub Facebook page, follow #adventbookclub on Twitter or comment below.  If you are also reading and blogging on this book, let me know and I will link to your blog.

 

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Tempting…

All I desire

Temptation

Heaven 17 sum it up, temptation, desire, giving in to what you want to do – whether it’s good for you or not…

You know you want to, it won’t matter really, just this once

the little voice, that so easily can lead you astray.

In the whirlwind that is Mark’s gospel, in 6 short verses we cover Jesus being baptised, tempted and beginning his ministry.  If you want a fuller version of The Temptation, you can read Matthew or Luke’s version.  But what Mark does is give us the broader picture.

Jesus is baptised, and God declares:

You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased

This is a high moment.  God is confirming what Jesus believed about himself, and what John knew he was waiting for – Jesus is The One, God’s Son is here, living in the world.

But it is straight from that high, that Jesus goes into the desert and he is tempted.  Jesus, the Son of God, is not above temptation.  He has power, authority and being able to do what he wants dangled in front of him, he has a choice to make.

To me, it is good news that Jesus is tempted.  If being the Son of God doesn’t preclude you from being tempted, then we shouldn’t worry when we are tempted to things too – the differenced is how Jesus responded to the temptations that came before him.  We can face temptation every day – a juicy bit of gossip to share, a bit of glory offered, a piece of power that can be grabbed, a wrong path to take… Seeing those temptations is not wrong – it is how we react to them that can get us into trouble.

Perhaps Lent offers us a time to reflect on how we respond to temptations in our life.  What should we be doing?  And what should we be steering clear of? Jesus took time out, faced his demons, and ultimately triumphed over them – that was the foundation on which he could build his ministry.  He knew what his temptations were, the things that could lead him from the path he was called to, and he had put them in their place.  In doing that they no longer held any power over him, they could not surprise him and trip him up.

But perhaps even better news, is that Jesus returned from the desert, from winning his own personal battle with temptations, and went to spread the Good News.  Jesus didn’t keep away from anyone else because he was now too good for them, he didn’t set himself apart lest anyone lead him astray – he came to them, and shared the good news of God – offering them the opportunity to repent and believe.

So even to those who’ve got it wrong, who have given in to temptation, there is an opportunity to stop, turn round and go in a different direction.

Jesus is not aloof to our struggles, but meets us in them and offers a different way.  Will we take it?

The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!

Thank you Lord

that Jesus identifies with my struggle,

that he has been there and faced it –

and ultimately triumphed over it,

sharing that with me

in the opportunity

to repent and believe –

to turn to you.

May I know your power and presence

in the struggles of life,

and your forgiveness

and a new start

when I get it wrong.

 

3 reasons

I don’t have to come here to be insulted, I can get that at home!  So the saying goes…

Such has been Paul’s experience in Philippi he says, but he has not let it put him off coming to Thessalonica, and with the courage given to him by God, he has continued to bring the Good News.

Paul has three reasons for doing what he’s doing, and risking all the abuse he gets:

  • He’s not trying to please people – but God
  • He always speaks as God wants
  • He’s ready to share, not just the good news – but their lives as well

Paul and his companions have lived a life that pointed to God.  It would have been easier at times not to, but they knew the Good News had to be lived and told, and so they set to it.  And they do it all because of love.  They love the Thessalonians, along with the other communities they have visited, so much, they are willing to suffer insult and persecution to please God, to speak as he wants them, and to share their very lives.

Their love is so overwhelming, that they can do little other than share.

But what about me?!

What are we prepared to put up with, so that we can continue to share the good news with others?

How much of our lives are we prepared to share?

Are we trying to please people – or only God?

Lord,

I know what you ask of me,

but I find it hard.

I don’t want to put all of me out there –

I want to keep some bits for myself;

I so want people to like me;

I like a reasonably easy life…

Lord,

fill me so full of your love for others

that I can do no other

than live solely for you